Bruce Molsky, considered by many to be the premier old-time fiddler in the world, will make his third visit to Tehachapi May 6 for a concert in St. Jude’s Anglican Church sponsored by Fiddlers Crossing.
He will be accompanied this time by “The Mountain Drifters,” a duo that includes Allison DeGroot on banjo and Paula Bradley on guitar. Everyone who enjoys or performs in “Fiddling Down the Tracks,” Tehachapi’s annual fiddle contest, won’t want to miss this event.
The trio will also give a workshop on Appalachian old-time music at Fiddlers Crossing the next morning, Saturday, May 7, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.. The workshop is open to everyone who wants to learn more about this genre of Americana music. The trio will first talk about the music and its roots, and then teach a tune for the group to play. Everyone is welcome to bring an instrument and join in or just come and enjoy.
A native New Yorker, Molsky fell in love with old-time music as a teenager. He also plays banjo and guitar, and spent time in Virginia in the 1970s, learning from some of the old master fiddlers.
Molsky’s fiddling is based on the regional mountain styles that were everywhere in rural America before World War II. “In those days,” says Molsky, “you could tell a Texas tune from a Virginia tune from a Mississippi tune by the phrasing, ornamentation and rhythmic ‘gait,’ just as you could tell where people were from by the way they spoke.” This music evolved into Texas contest style (listen to Benny Thomason, Major Franklin and Dick Barrett), Nashville ‘studio’ music (Mark O’Connor, Tommy Jackson), and other modern fiddle styles.
In addition to a prolific solo career, Molsky frequently crosses genres and joins supergroups, like the Grammy-nominated Fiddlers Four and Celtic giant Donal Lunny. He was on Nickel Creek's farewell tour, and has performed in a trio with Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and Sweden's great Ale Moller.
To Molsky, the appeal of traditional music is that it is “real people’s music. It’s the honest expression of life as we all live it.”
Joining Molsky for this West Coast tour is Paula Bradley on guitar. Bradley grew up in Huntington, W.Va,, and has been playing music “since I could stand on my own two feet,” as she puts it. She has played piano, guitar, ukulele, banjo — and even clogged — with old-time bands such as Uncle Earl, Twangbusters and Moonshine Holler.
Allison de Groot is one of Canada’s top clawhammer banjo players, and has toured all over the world. In 2012 she was awarded the Slaight Family Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, she studied with Molsky in the American Roots Program. She is one of the young musicians said to be pushing the boundaries of her instrument.
Concert tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. The concert starts at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:30 p.m. As always, coffee, tea and goodies are included in the price of the tickets. St. Jude’s is at 1200 S. Curry St.
The workshop is $20, and runs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (The workshop is scheduled for Fiddlers Crossing, but may be held in St. Jude’s, as well, if more seating is needed.) For more information, call 823-9994, or visit fiddlerscrossing.com, or the Fiddlers Crossing facebook page. Tickets are available at Fiddlers Crossing and Mountain Music, 206 E. F St., downtown Tehachapi, as well as at our other outlets: Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture and Lucky’s Barbershop. Tickets may also be purchased online at Fiddlerscrossing.com.
Deborah Hand-Cutler, a former mayor of the City of Tehachapi, owns Mountain Music, where she teaches cello and mountain dulcimer.